Word of the day: parvenu

parvenu. (n)
a person of humble origin who has gained wealth, influence, or celebrity.
“the political inexperience of a parvenu”
synonyms: upstart, social climber, arriviste, vulgarian…

A parvenu is a person who is a relative newcomer to a socioeconomic class. The word is borrowed from the French language; it is the past participle of the verb parvenir (to reach, to arrive, to manage to do something). -Wikipedia (https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Parvenu)

Origin

The word parvenu typically describes a person who recently ascended the social ladder, especially a nouveau riche or “new money” individual. The famous Margaret Brown, who survived the Titanic sinking in 1912, was portrayed as a “new money” individual in the “climbing social classes” musical The Unsinkable Molly Brown because of her impoverished Irish immigrant roots and lack of social pedigree.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines a parvenu as: “A person from a humble background who has rapidly gained wealth or an influential social position; a nouveau riche; an upstart, a social climber. Also in extended use. Generally used with the implication that the person concerned is unsuited to the new social position, esp. through lacking the necessary manners or accomplishments.”

The term designates individuals not socially accepted by individuals already established in their new class. It expresses a form of classism.

Social climber

A social climber is a derogatory term that denotes someone who seeks social prominence through aggressive, fawning, or obsequious behavior.[1] The term is sometimes used as synonymous with parvenu, and may be used as an insult, suggesting a poor work ethic or disloyalty to roots.

Examples

Several examples might include athletic and entertainment professionals born and raised in poverty and suddenly finding themselves with significantly higher income due to their new-found celebrity status.

Established royal families of Europe regarded the Bonaparte family as parvenu royalty. Napoleon III tried to marry into Swedish and German royalty, but was unsuccessful because he was a parvenu. For instance, his plan to marry Anna Pavlovna, one of the sisters of the Emperor Alexander, did not push through because the Empress Mother objected to the union on account of Napoleon’s status as a parvenu.[2] The reason given for the misalliance was difference of religion.[2] This was also said to be the case with the marriage of Egyptian Princess Fawzia to the future Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi[citation needed]. One of the reasons speculated for their divorce is that Fawzia’s family, including King Farouk I, viewed the Pahlavis as parvenus[citation needed]. Though the Muhammad Ali Dynasty of Egypt and Sudan, to which Fawzia belonged, had humble beginnings, it had solidified its status in Egypt and the Arab World since 1805. In contrast, the Pahlavis were a far more recent dynasty, owing their position entirely to the coup d’état of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s father, Reza Khan, in 1921.

Many parvenus in the United States arrived there as poor immigrants, then worked their way up the social ladder. Beginning as laborers, they took advantage of better economic opportunities in the U.S., moving on to become civil servants, “white collar” (business/office) workers and finally members of respectable society. Such an example might be John Jacob Astor, whose family once skinned rabbits for a living.[3] With his brother, he went on to build such icons of New York City as the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. His grandson moved to England, where he eventually became the first Viscount Astor.

In the 19th century, the French aristocracy viewed Jewish women who converted to Christianity upon marriage as parvenus.[4] Professor Catherine Nicault of the University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne has argued that this exemplified the way in which the French aristocracy was hostile toward Jews.[4]

Literature

Vanity Fair‘s Becky Sharp is considered an archetype of the social climber, having flirted her way up the British upper class. The character was not born to affluence or the aristocracy but, on the strength of personal ambition, have climbed the social ladder through opportunism.[5]

Philosophy

  • Friedrich Nietzsche in The Gay Science section 176 on Compassion “les souverains rangent aux parvenus” translated “the sovereign put themselves before the parvenu”.

Film and television

Doobie Dubai bye

“Ask me for my best side I stand back and point at you.” (Big Sean)
Cool lyric. Lyrically cool, sitting in Woolies Cafe opposite a writer who seems to be contemplating the world. I sneaked a look at his notebook while he was away,

“The world is burning…”

The Economist lies neatly under the espresso cup and its cover says “Murder in Libya”. Seems the Middle East is a feature of my life these days… Not least because my Tenneale is in Dubai for work.

Good luck baby, I promise to keep the “home fire burning” and our wine rack stocked.

Much love.

20120922-143620.jpg

24 June. Mid-winter.

And yet I feel the warmth returning… 🙂 So happy you’re coming back today Tenneale, I have missed you terribly…

Forty six and 2, metamorphosis.

JELLYFISH.
2012-06-08.

 

My shadow
Shedding skin
I’ve been picking
Scabs again
Up, down
Digging through
My old muscles
For a clue

I’ve been crawling on my belly
Clearing out what could’ve been
I’ve been wallowing in my own confused
And insecure delusions
For a piece to cross me over
Or a word to guide me in
I wanna feel the changes coming down
I wanna know what I’ve been hiding

In my shadow
My shadow
Change is coming through my shadow
My shadow
Shedding skin
I’ve been picking
My scabs again

I’ve been crawling on my belly
Clearing out what could’ve been
I’ve been wallowing in my own chaotic
Insecure delusions
I wanna feel the change consume me
Feel the outside turning in
I wanna feel the metamorphosis and
Cleansing I’ve endured

In my shadow
My shadow
Change is coming
Now is my time
Listen to my muscle memory
Contemplate what I’ve been clinging to
Forty-six and two ahead of me

I choose to live and to
Grow, take and give and to
Move, learn and love and to
Cry, kill and die and to
Be paranoid and to
Lie, hate and fear and to
Do what it takes to move through

I
Choose to live and to
Lie
Kill and give and to
Die
Learn and love and to
Do what it takes to step through

See my shadow changing
Stretching up and over me
Soften this old armor
Hoping I can clear the way
By stepping through my shadow
Coming out the other side
Step into the shadow
Forty six and two are just ahead of me